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Ambition & Bondage: An Inquiry into Alexander Hamilton and Slavery

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None of the founding fathers of our nation have attracted a more peculiar sense of mystery and controversy than Alexander Hamilton. Premature, energetic, and boundlessly ambitious, Hamilton polarized the opinions of his contemporaries and won admirers of his revolutionary political and financial ideas as well as lifelong political opponents who were averse to his controversial writings and personality. Most of the work on Hamilton focuses on his role in George Washington's inner circle during the American Revolution and the beginning of the American Republic, his influential interpretations of the United States Constitution, his founding of the American financial system, and his role in instituting partisanship in the United States early American political system. However, Hamilton also maintained a complicated relationship with the institution of slavery in the young United States. Hamilton's biographers praise him for being a public abolitionist, but his position on slavery is more complex than his most prominent biographers (including Ron Chernow, Willard Randall, and Richard Brookhiser) suggest. Careful research shows that Hamilton passionately loathed the institution of slavery, but whenever the issue of slavery conflicted with Hamilton's core political tenet of property rights, his belief in promoting American interests, or his own personal ambition, Hamilton abandoned those motivations to to overcome his aversion to slavery.

The ongoing conflict between Hamilton's ambition and ideology arose out of the social complexities of his early life, during his childhood in St. Croix and his early adulthood in New York City, before Hamilton left King's College for the American Revolution. This conflict can be illustrated by examining Hamilton's contributing factors, including his patrons who helped fund his departure from St. Croix and his classes at Elizabethtown Academy and eventually King’s College. Hamilton's later public opinion on slavery as a prominent New York statesman was eventually shaped in the early years of his manhood. Hamilton's personal life and thoughts are left to historians to speculate from Hamilton's private writings, but parts of the public opinion of the first US Treasury Secretary can be understood by examining young Hamilton's relationship with slavery. By analyzing Hamilton's experiences with slavery in his childhood and adolescence in St. Croix and his young adulthood in Elizabethtown and King's, Hamilton's private struggle, and ultimately his public relationship with slavery, becomes clearer.

Hamilton's attitude towards the institution of slavery found its first source in his upbringing on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. Young Hamilton's life was plagued by personal tragedy and economic misery. The personal records that remain of Hamilton's childhood and adolescence lack essential information about Hamilton's early character and disposition. The few specific facts about young Hamilton's childhood come from legal records. Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis in 1755, the illegitimate son of James Hamilton and Rachel Fawcett Lavien. When he moved to St. Croix is ​​unclear, but what is certain is that James Hamilton left the family early in Hamilton's childhood. Already a social outsider, a bastard, Hamilton's childhood became even more difficult when his mother Rachel died in 1768 when Hamilton was twelve years old. It was here that Hamilton experienced his first direct contact with the institution of slavery when Rachel left the remainder of her property to her orphaned son, including a slave boy named Ajax. However, Hamilton and his brother James Jr. received none of their inheritance because of their illegitimate birth [1] . Hamilton didn't become a slave owner early on, but his childhood on St. Croix, an island where only 2,000 of the 24,000 residents were white [two] , completely exposed Hamilton to the trials and tribulations of plantation slavery as the operation of the Caribbean sugar industry was entirely dependent on the institution. Growing up within a slave society and observing its daily practice influenced the young Hamilton - as a social outsider, Hamilton may have identified in some ways with the depressed and despised position of the slave in West Indian society [3] . Hamilton experienced firsthand the intense fighting plantation slaves were exposed to, and through this direct exposure, he began to abhor the institution of slavery.

Despite the misfortunes of his early childhood, Hamilton's ambitions began to grow along with his sizable talents. At the age of twelve, Hamilton wrote his earliest documented letter to childhood friend Edward Stevens, then a student at King’s College in New York City, in which Hamilton admits his frustration at his limited opportunities on St. Croix Island. His ambition was so great that I despise the coarse and the condition of a clerk or something like that to whom my fortune & c. condemns me and will willingly risk my life, if not my character, to raise my standing [4] . Hamilton found valves for his limitless precociousness in St. Croix - at the end of the 1760s, the import-export business of Beekman & Cruger in Christiansted hired the young Hamilton as an office worker and gave him a window to the outside world by introducing him into the environment of Merchant ships and fluctuating markets. The company traded in all imaginable goods that are necessary for planters [5] , and the handling of foreign coins and the successful conduct of imports provided Hamilton with an invaluable education that would shape his later writings on the American economy. Hamilton's model at the company, Nicholas Cruger, was a member of a prominent New York colonial family. His father Henry was a wealthy merchant, shipowner, and member of His Majesty's Royal Council for the Province, and his uncle John was the longtime Royal Mayor of New York City [6] . Despite these official connections, Nicholas Cruger eventually expressed his condolences to the insurgent American colonists and openly revered George Washington. Historians believe that Cruger served the young Hamilton not only as a professional mentor but also as an early political mentor; Cruger provided a direct route to Hamilton's future home in New York City by introducing young Hamilton to his mainland connections through the operations of Beekman & Cruger. When Nicholas Cruger fell ill for months in 1771, Cruger let fourteen-year-old Hamilton run the entire St. Croix branch of Beekman & Cruger [7] .

The Cruger family's Waste & Account Book shows that they were mainly engaged in trading goods, but the company and family were occasionally involved in the African slave trade. During his employment, Hamilton experienced the cramped conditions on slave ships on which hundreds of Africans were chained in stinking holds - the conditions on the ships are said to be so hideous that people ashore on St. Croix could smell the rotten outflows from miles away. The Cruger company advertises in the Royal Danish American Gazette Ga , the local St. Croix bilingual newspaper that the company had just imported from the windward coast of Africa and is due to be sold next Monday by Messrs. Kortwright & Cruger, at the Cruger yard, Three Hundred Prime SLAVES [8] . The buyers of these slaves were denied entry until the goods were well rubbed with oil to make them look smooth and beautiful, a job that was surely left to Hamilton and other commodity managers. A year later, Hamilton was involved in the sale of the cargo from the Dutch Indian ship Venus, who survived a difficult journey from the African gold coast and arrived in poor condition in the port of Christiansted. Nicholas Cruger complained that the 250 slaves on board were indeed very indifferent, sickly, and thin. They brought in an average of 30 pounds, less than the value of a healthy mule [9] . Although Hamilton the Venus Trading at his usual efficiency, it was an operation he openly loathed [10] . Whether or not Hamilton wanted to engage in slavery on St. Croix Island, the laws of the parent government in Copenhagen forced him to do so because of his status as a white man. According to the St. Croixian Pocket Companion, a pamphlet describing the duties of whites on the island, every man over sixteen had to serve in the militia and be ready with muskets if the central fort fired its guns twice. This militia service was mainly used to quell the smaller slave riots that were taking place on the island. Hamilton saw nervous planters living in constant fear of slave riots and constantly reinforcing their militia to repel them; even after Hamilton went to America, he carried an aversion to anarchy and disorder that conflicted with Hamilton's philosophical embrace of personal freedom. Hamilton's exposure to the St. Croix slave trade may have played a crucial role in his advocacy for a stronger centralized state - he detested the tyranny of the authoritarian rule of plantation builders, but also feared the possible revolts of dismissed slaves [elf] . The contradicting dichotomy of despotism and anarchy as a result of Hamilton's exposure to Caribbean slave society would show up in his later writings on governmental and non-slave-related matters.

Hamilton's brilliant performance at Beekman & Cruger began to impress people with his intellectual promise. The Reverend Hugh Knox, an evangelical Christian who served the young Hamilton as an intellectual mentor, bestowed on him Scottish enlightenment ideals that advocated free will over predestination as the main tenant of evangelical Presbyterianism. Knox was Hamilton's first contact with a strong religious argument against slavery [12] . Shortly after a 1772 hurricane devastated much of Christiansted and St. Croix, Hamilton penned a letter to his father to reflect the devastation the hurricane had caused to residents of the Caribbean island. Reverend Hugh Knox got wind of the letter and published it in the Royal Danish American Gazette. In the letter, Hamilton berates the St. Croix planter class for failing to come to the aid of their fellow citizens of St. Croix - O you who indulge in prosperity, see the sufferings of humanity, and give it relief to your abundance. Don't say we have suffered too, so hold back your compassion. What are your ailments compared to those? You still have more than enough left. Act wisely. Help the poor and collect treasure in heaven. [13] This teasing of the planter class shows Hamilton's aversion to the St. Croix slave society and perhaps suggests that his later feelings about slavery were based on economic jealousy alongside ideological and philosophical opposition. Despite his fundamental rejection of the institution, Hamilton recognized with this letter that the island's powerful elite were almost exclusively slave owners or slave traders.

The letter served as a stepping stone to Hamilton's ambition to flee the small town of Christiansted in order to establish himself in society. Reverend Knox began arranging a scholarship to send Hamilton to New York City for an apprenticeship. In recognition of Hamilton's intellectual potential, numerous citizens joined the cause. Wealthy merchants who had done business with Hamilton as employees of Beekman & Cruger made contributions. Nicholas Cruger and his associate, Cornelius Kortwright, agreed to deliver four annual loads of West Indian products to be sold and used in support of Hamilton. One of the four annual charges certainly included funds from the sale of slaves and slave-made goods, and therefore the Caribbean slave trade directly promoted Hamilton's social mobility. Another interesting contribution to the fund was the probate judge, who denied Hamilton's inheritance from his mother Rachel due to his illegitimate birth. In total, the Reverend Knox had arranged pledges of £ 400, his estimate of the cost of four years of tuition, meals, and transportation to mainland America [14] .

In early October 1772, Hamilton arrived in Boston Harbor and began exploring the complexities of colonial life in young America. He arrived in New York City for the first time in early November and took the Boston-New York bi-weekly stagecoach to the southern tip of Manhattan. His first stop was King's College, which sits on a cliff overlooking the Hudson River between Barclay Street and Murray Street [fifteen] - although he was not yet a student, he intended to visit his old friend Edward Stevens, to whom he wrote his first recorded letter in 1769. Hamilton had letters of recommendation and merit from the Reverend Knox and Nicholas Cruger. The Reverend Knox referred him to the Reverend John Rodgers, who recommended that Hamilton go to pre-school, but on an expedited route so as not to run out of his funds before he even entered college. Hamilton enrolled at Elizabethtown Academy in Elizabethtown, New Jersey on the recommendation of Reverend Rodgers. Hamilton was hoping to enter the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) after a few years of accelerated study in Elizabethtown.

Young Hamilton plunged headlong into his studies, trying to absorb the years of training within a few months. Although Hamilton was known for being insatiable in his studies, he was often seen pacing up and down the [Elizabethtown] cemetery hour after hour, muttering to himself with a book in hand, [16] he wasn't just a pedant. Through his recommendations from Reverend Knox, Hamilton met the powerful families in the area, including those of Elias Boudinot and William Livingston.

Boudinot Manor, Boxwood Hall, is believed to be Hamilton's residence in Elizabethtown during his tenure, and he incorporated much of the philosophy that made Elias Boudinot a prominent member of the unofficial aristocracy of the middle colonies. Boudinot was a successful lawyer and philanthropist who was a leader of the American Presbyterian Church and an influential member of the Princeton Board of Trustees at the time Hamilton joined the Fireside family at Boxwood Hall. Most notably, Elias Boudinot was an early abolitionist who used his legal skills to defend slaves in court without charging a fee [17] . Hamilton developed connections with a variety of families during his time in New Jersey, but none as warm and close as the relationship he forged with the Boudinot family. It is clear that the Boudinots influenced Hamilton more than his other professional connections, perhaps because of the sympathy Elias and Alexander shared for the state of slaves in America.

At this time, Hamilton also met the Livingston family through William Livingston. At Liberty Hall in Elizabethtown, Livingston Manor, Hamilton received good meals and important introductions. At Liberty Hall, Hamilton mingled with some of the most prominent slaveholding families in the middle colonies - it was here that he met the Beekman family of New York City, the remainder of the Livingston clan, the DeLancey family, and even the Schuylers of Albany. It was at Liberty Hall that Hamilton met his future wife, Elizabeth Schuyler [18] . Despite his aversion to slavery, Hamilton was forced to flirt with the daughters of the American slave aristocracy. Whether he liked it or not wielding the influence these families wielded in colonial America would hasten Hamilton's path to his personal ambitions.

After completing his accelerated studies at Elizabethtown Academy, Hamilton attempted to fulfill his original intention of attending the College of New Jersey. Armed with recommendations from two college curators - William Livingston and Elias Boudinot - and a desire to graduate from a more republican college, Hamilton met with Princeton President, Scottish Minister Dr. John Witherspoon. Hercules Mulligan, a New York merchant tailor known to the Cruger family, accompanied Hamilton. Mulligan later recalled Hamilton saying he wanted to enter [the college]. . . provided that he should be allowed to advance from class to class as quickly as his efforts would allow. Fueled by the stress of a former Princeton student finishing his bachelor's degree in two years instead of four (ironically, James Madison, Hamilton's future associate at The Federalist), Witherspoon listened carefully to such an unusual suggestion from such a young person, and declined Hamilton's request [19] . Hamilton made the same request to King’s College in New York, which accepted it.

Historians argue exactly when Hamilton enrolled at King's as a student - the records of Hamilton's collegiate contemporaries also seem to be different. A copy of a manuscript from the Matricula, or Register of Admissions & of Graduations & of Officers who were employed at King’s College in New York, shows Hamilton’s name among those admitted in 1774, one under a class of 17 [twenty] . Robert Troup, Hamilton's lifelong friend and roommate during his time at King's College, recalled meeting Hamilton in 1773 when General [Hamilton] came at King's, now Columbia College, New York, where I was a student to college, he did it as a private student, not by joining a particular class [twenty-one] . Troup's word serves as an illustration of Hamilton's unorthodox approach to higher education, a reminder of Hamilton's desire to complete his education in an independently expedited path. Hercules Mulligan housed Hamilton in his family home in New York City and recalled that in the spring of 75, Hamilton had enrolled in King's College in the sophomore class [22] . King’s College carelessly maintained its official list in its infancy - Matricula could not only refer to enrollment in King’s College, but perhaps also to a degree or other university landmarks. Hamilton was undoubtedly a private student, as noted by Robert Troup, in the 1773-1774 academic year and then officially entered King's according to the Matricula in 1774, perhaps as a sophomore, Hercules Mulligan recalled.

King’s College was located in the most beautiful college location in the world [2.3] on an elevated plateau bounded by what is now West Broadway, Murray, Barclay and Church Streets. Across the street from King's was the Red Light District of New York, where every night up to 2% of the city's total population patrolled the dark alleys, offering their services to cautious King's students. For these reasons, President Myles Cooper, an Anglican royalist, tried to isolate his students as much as possible from the outside New York.

New York turned out to be a very different environment for American slavery than St. Croix - mostly house slaves lived in the city, and slaves made up a fifth of its 25,000 residents. Hamilton fell in love with New York straight away when the commercial and immigration-oriented world felt familiar, a merger of his former homes in Christiansted and Elizabethtown. At King's, Hamilton met colleagues who had taken their house slaves to college - most notably John Jacky Parker Custis, who was sent to King's in 1773 by his stepfather, General George Washington, in hopes of curbing Jacky's predilection for indecent behavior. Jacky was accompanied by his slave Joe, who lived with his master in an accommodation provided by King's [24] . King’s College in Hamilton’s day worked with a foundation supported by slavery - sixteen slavers in the city served as trustees of King’s College prior to the revolution. The trustees' slave activities are clear even with the details of incomplete and damaged records of the New York Treasurer's reports. Hamilton had arrived on a campus built largely through the operations and donations of slave traders [25] .

Hamilton immersed himself headfirst into his studies and student life at King's, devoting his mental and spiritual skills to the libraries and college chapel of King. Hamilton first enrolled in the equivalent of modern pre-medical courses to begin his training as a budding physician. Robert Troup's notes indicate that Hamilton attended college for anatomical lectures from Dr. Clossy visited [26] . Hamilton's classmates noted his deep devotion to religious ideals - Robert Troup described his roommate as an avid believer in the basic tenets of Christianity [27] , and some of Hamilton's classmates noted his attention to public worship and his habit of kneeling prayers night and morning [28] . Hamilton began to deviate from his medical degree when he took courses in political philosophy and greedily read Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Hume, Blackstone, Grotius, and Samuel von Pufendorf, of whom Hamilton particularly developed a keen sense of the laws of nature and their relationships with the human freedom [29] . Hamilton's deep spiritual pursuit, coupled with his sudden fascination with Enlightenment writers, forced him to deal with the political issues of his time as a young student at King's. Hamilton joined King’s Troup as a monarchist found that Hamilton was well versed in the history of England and well acquainted with the principles of the English constitution, which he admired [30] . However, through weekly meetings of a self-made rhetoric society that included members of Hamilton, Troup and Edward Stevens, Hamilton's political outlook began to develop, and Hamilton began to write outspoken anti-British articles. Using his colleagues in the rhetoric society to preview his essays, Hamilton began to strike against British colonial rule through his writings comparing the plight of revolutionary Americans with that of the black colonial slave. These pieces served as the early foundations of Hamilton's burgeoning reputation.

After the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the coercive laws that followed in 1774, revolutionary movements began to sway across the Atlantic colonies. In the generally Anglophile New York, anti-British fervor emerged which distracted Hamilton from his studies with rallies, petitions, broadsides and leaflets. The Sons of Liberty militants held a rally on a lawn near King’s College in July 1774 to raise support for a boycott of British goods, a gathering that served as the soap box for Hamilton’s first public speech. Hamilton, encouraged by the assembled crowd, spoke out against the closure of Boston Harbor, advocated colonial unity against unfair taxation, and advocated a boycott of British goods - declaring that inaction would enable fraud, power, and the most hideous repression rise up triumphant over law, justice, social happiness and freedom [31] . Hamilton continued to write against the repressive policies of the Crown as revolutionary efforts took shape and the First Continental Congress planned a meeting. In December 1774, Hamilton published his first major essay, A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, which was published in the New Yorker Gazetteer. A Full Vindication showed Hamilton's extensive training in history, philosophy, politics, economics and law from King’s - he used the principles of Hume and von Pufendorf in an intellectually charged argument against British colonial rule. Most notably, the play draws direct comparisons between black slaves and oppressed colonists, further confirmation of Hamilton's deep disapproval of slavery. In the play, Hamilton explained his fundamental belief that all human beings have a common origin: they have part of a common nature and therefore have a common right, and that there is no just reason for a man to wield any power or pre-eminence. about his fellow creatures, unless they have voluntarily endowed him with it. He continued to urge the Atlantic farmers to face their oppression and asked them if they would then be ready to be slaves without a single fight? Are you going to give up your freedom, or, what is the same, give up all security for your life and property instead of enduring a few small present-day inconveniences? Aren't you going to go out of your way to pass the benefits you now possess to those who come after you? [32] . Hamilton filled in A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress with explicit references to the state of slavery in connection with the target group of the brochure, the oppressed colonists of the American colonies, structured according to the philosophies that Hamilton took from the library of King’s College. Hamilton's critics, some of whom were wealthy Atlantic slaveholders, responded to A Full Vindication by rejecting the analogy between the state of the slaves and the state of the colonists. In his rebuttal of the criticism, titled A Farmer Refuted, Hamilton made no mention of slavery at all, instead focusing on rhetoric directly relevant to the revolutionary cause [33] .

Revolutionary fever gripped New York, and the records of Hamilton's early exposure to slavery fade as the colonies' attention focused on an impending skirmish with the British Crown. In the spring of 1775, Hamilton famously distracted an angry, drunken patriot mob from apprehending King’s College President Myles Cooper, who continued to harbor strong loyalists [3.4] . When the college leadership was relieved and the events of the revolution had snowball effects, King's students began to neglect their studies, many joining local New York militias and giving their support to the revolutionary cause. Hamilton himself took part in a mission to pull artillery from Fort George (where it was threatened to be captured by British forces advancing on Manhattan) back to King's, where the artillery was safely placed under the Freedom Post in the Common [35] . Hamilton never graduated from King’s College with a formal degree as it dissolved into a military hospital for patriotic forces in April 1776.

Hamilton was barely twenty-one years old, but his early life was largely over. In search of a more active role in the coming war, Hamilton joined the Continental Army after serving with the Hearts of Oak militia for some time. Through Hamilton's connections with prominent New Yorkers, the New York Provincial Congress finally named Hamilton captain of the Provincial Company of the Artillery of NY in March 1776 [36] . Following military successes at the Battle of White Plains and the Battle of Trenton, Hamilton was invited to serve as an aide to General George Washington, a post he accepted with enthusiasm. Washington and Hamilton had complementary talents, values ​​and opinions that made the couple far more than the sum of their parts, and Hamilton took in as much of the general as possible - never had he come so close to such an influential person. Washington used Hamilton's superior rhetorical skills to his advantage, so that Hamilton directed all communications from Washington to Congress, state governors, and the most powerful generals in the Continental Army. Hamilton even started writing some of Washington's speeches, a trend that continued into the Washington presidency [37] . Washington had over a hundred slaves on its Mount Vernon plantation, a fact that Hamilton overlooked in his speeches and letters to General, then President Washington. Hamilton's relationship with Washington is an example of Hamilton prioritizing his personal ambition and influential connections over the aversion to slavery he acquired in his early life. A close relationship with Washington, Hamilton saw, would bring political and social benefits in the long run, and Hamilton weighed that against his disgust for slavery.

Although Hamilton avoided talking to Washington about slavery at all costs for fear of alienating his mentor, Hamilton urged Washington to add slaves to the Continental Army. Washington refused, partly because of its own racial views and partly for fear of alienating South Carolina and Georgia from revolutionary efforts to recruit black men, until Lord Dunmore, the governor of Virginia, offered the slaves freedom to fight the colonists [38] . Hamilton took this opportunity to convince Washington to accept black soldiers who fight for the revolutionary cause. In a letter to John Jay, then President of the Continental Congress, Hamilton argued that this action would have to fight a lot of prejudice and self-interest opposition, but hoped to prove that the Negroes would make excellent soldiers. with proper management. Hamilton hoped that this measure would possibly pave the way to emancipation, and he confessed this secret wish to Jay: This fact, as I confess, is of no small importance in wishing me the success of the project; for the precepts of humanity and true politics interest me equally in favor of this unhappy class of people. At a time when large numbers of white rulers, including Hamilton's contemporaries Thomas Jefferson and Washington, harbored profoundly racist views, Hamilton denied the inferiority of the black race, speculating that its natural abilities are as good as ours [39] , a remarkably progressive statement in the context of Hamilton's era. Although Hamilton hoped that the inclusion of black soldiers in the Continental Army could potentially serve as a path to gradual emancipation, it was not Hamilton's primary goal to enlist Washington's support in order to enlist slaves for revolutionary endeavors. Always the pragmatist, Hamilton realized that the recruitment of slaves was vital to the revolutionary effort - if the 5,000 slaves who had joined the Continental Army had instead joined the thousands of colonial slaves who flocked to the British Army the personnel situation for the Continental Army has been dire.

When the Revolutionary War ended, Hamilton served briefly in the Confederation Congress, solving problems ranging from army protests to economic inequalities from late 1782 to July 1783 [40] . Hamilton doubted the ability of Congress to rule the young United States and left his first stint in politics to return to New York City. Upon his return, Hamilton set up a law firm and settled in town with his new wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, whom he had courted and married in the twilight of the revolution. Hamilton certainly loved Elizabeth, whom he affectionately called Eliza, but much more appreciated the connection she had with the Schuyler family, one of New York City's most influential slave-owning families. Hamilton's marriage to Eliza is another example of how Hamilton places his firm aversion to slavery under his desire to strengthen his own social position in American society. At times, Philip Schuyler, the patron saint of the family, owned up to 27 slaves and worked on the family estate in Albany and a plantation in Saratoga [41] . It is unclear whether or not Hamilton and Eliza owned slaves in their personal household - financial records do not clearly show that the Hamilton household owned house slaves, and a 1804 letter from Angelica Schuyler regretfully stated that Eliza had no slaves around helping with a big party the Hamiltons were planning [42] . Even so, Hamilton accepted this aspect of the Schuyler family's power to facilitate his own social mobility.

In addition to his new law firm and budding new family, Hamilton was engaged in other activities in New York. Hamilton played a direct role in the resurrection of his alma mater, King’s College, and became a trustee of the revitalized Columbia College. Columbia College Trustees' minutes show that Hamilton attended meetings regularly from 1784 until his death in 1804 [43] . Hamilton set the standard for the first directors of Columbia College by stating that the president of the college must be a gentleman ... as well as a solid scholar ... and his politics must be of the right kind. Hamilton prevented Dr. Benjamin Rush, a prominent statesman during the American Revolution, is about to get an administrative post in Columbia College's medical department [44] .

Hamilton's most notable activity in relation to his views on slavery was his role in founding the Society for the Promotion of the Manumission of Slaves in New York. Hamilton joined his contemporaries and old friends, John Jay and Robert Troup, to form the company in early 1785. The New York Manumission Society, as it was called, carried out a widespread campaign against slavery, printing essays, producing literature, and establishing a registry to prevent freed blacks from being dragged back into bondage [Four five] . Early Manumission Society records show no strong commitment from Hamilton - it even appears that he missed the Society's inaugural meeting [46] . Perhaps Hamilton was simply putting his prestige on a good cause to re-mingle with the upper classes of New York society, including notable men like Nicholas Fish, William Livingston, John Rodgers, John Mason, James Duane, and William Duer. However, later records show that Hamilton did indeed play an important role in society and, with Robert Troup and White Matlack, drafted a proposal for members of society to free their slaves within a certain time frame. Society members found Hamilton's proposal too radical and rejected his plan. After leaving the company for a short time, Hamilton returned to the company as an advisor and helped draft a petition to end the New York slave trade [47] . Hamilton's efforts to promote the abolition of the Manumission Society did not conflict with his personal ambitions or interests in property rights or the building of the American republic - since the members of the society had the task of freeing their slaves of their own accord, Hamilton saw there is no need by doing this to impede any efforts at a possible abolition.

Hamilton had to cease his work with the New York Manumission Society and the New York Society altogether as the new United States entered the process of building a new and unified government. After a failed attempt to reform the Articles of Confederation in Annapolis in 1786, Hamilton worked tirelessly to organize the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention to revise the American system of government. Hamilton served as the central negotiator during the Constitutional Convention and often compromised to ensure the creation of a unified form of government for the young United States. Although compromises on citizenship and the structure of government were reached with the careful effort of delegates, the specter of slavery haunted the convention. The southern states refused to give in on this and supported the Virginia plan of the Congressional Bureau to protect the special institution of slavery. Recognizing that a difficult compromise would have to be made to ensure that a united nation would emerge from the Convention, Hamilton reluctantly accepted the federal ratio of five slaves, which for the purposes of congressional representation counts as three whites. He grumpily came to the conclusion that without this federal relationship, no union could have been formed [48] . In return for the ratio, Hamilton advocated the eventual abolition of the slave trade in the United States, which the southern states conceded - the importation of slaves into the United States would cease after 1808 could signal the ultimate end of slavery, Hamilton and his cohorts in recognized the convention that such a result was at best an illusory hope [49] . Despite his doubts about the Constitution drafted by the Convention, Hamilton recognized that this was the United States' best hope for a unified central government and put his efforts on the arduous task of ratifying it by states. Once again, Hamilton realized that the potential for US progress would be deterred by a frontal assault on the institution of slavery and chose to prioritize the former.

Understanding that New York's ratification of the Constitution would be absolutely critical to its general acceptance, Hamilton wrote the feverishly Federal papers working with John Jay and James Madison to convince New Yorkers to adopt the Constitution. Hamilton wrote a total of fifty-one essays, many of which dealt directly with property rights. Despite his concerns about the institution of slavery, Hamilton accepted that slaves were considered property under the Constitution and suggested in his essays that more property means a stronger voice for the citizen [fifty] . Hamilton was suspicious of the lower classes and favored a de facto aristocracy in the new American republic to ensure political stability. Hamilton had worked his whole life to reach the upper echelons of society, and consequently weighed heavily on the political influence the wealthy, wealthy upper class would have on constitutional government. Despite his monumental contributions to the formation of the new republic, Hamilton at its core favored the British political system and accepted a legislature in which representation favored wealthy men with property. Hamilton's support for the three-fifths clause of the constitution coincided with his commitment to the ideal of property rights and is another example of Hamilton's prioritization of a personal agenda over the abolition of slavery.

Hamilton eventually accepted the constitutional protection of slavery in order to consolidate the Union of the North and the South, which was vital to the financial growth Hamilton sought. The compromises that Hamilton made to perpetuate slavery under the Constitution were accepted not because Hamilton wanted to perpetuate slavery, but because Hamilton recognized that a unified government would not bear fruit without the continuation of slavery. The economic prosperity of the United States depended on harmonious relations between the north and the south. In addition, Hamilton claimed that southern agriculture gave the nation an advantage, as the southern crops of tobacco, rice, and indigo were used as capital objects in trade agreements with foreign nations [51] . Seeing the persistence of slavery in the United States as a necessary concession to economic growth, Hamilton chose national economic power instead of opposing slavery. Refusal to move on this issue would have made ratification of the constitution impossible.

Although Hamilton had spent the last part of his life making concessions on the issue of slavery to advance his personal ambitions and the interests of the early American republic, his work as future Secretary of the Treasury of the United States allowed him to lay the foundations for one of American economy independent of slavery. Under Washington, Hamilton had unprecedented power to build the United States' financial system. He believed that production was a more desirable activity than agriculture because it made higher profits [52] . In the magnum opus of his economic plan for the United States, the Report on the subject of manufactories , Hamilton acknowledged that agriculture is not just the most productive but the only productive type of industry and stressed its importance to an economy, but that American economic independence must emerge from the growth of industry and its establishment as a permanent feature of the The nation's economic system [53] . Hamilton argued that this could be achieved through subsidies for production, regulating trade through tariffs to encourage internal production, and other forms of government support. This surge in production, Hamilton said, would attract young, talented immigrants to the United States and expand the application of technology and science to all sectors of the economy, including agriculture. The Message does not mention slavery once, but refers to work as human capital as a variable input (wage labor) and not as a fixed function of capital (slave labor). Hamiltons Report on the subject of manufactories, along with First and Second reports on public loans (his Public Finance or National Banking Reports) put forward an economic blueprint for the United States without slavery. Although Hamilton had to compromise on slavery in order to achieve the unification of the United States necessary for his financial vision, Hamilton's omission of slavery in his plans for the U.S. economy in no way detracted from his personal ambitions, his devotion to property rights or safeguarding American interests. Another indication of the free working nature of Hamilton's Hamilton Manufacturer's report is the adoption of the measure as the cornerstone of the Republican Party's early platform, along with opposition to perpetuation and the expansion of slavery. The Message was so radical for his time that a Hamilton chronicler claimed that Hamilton's plan prophesied much of America after the Civil War [54] .

Hamilton's economic plan met with fierce opposition from his contemporaries Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, both Virginia slave owners. Hamilton's critics rejected the subsidies for industry because they feared a negative impact on American agriculture, which they saw as the backbone of the American economy. Ultimately, however, Jefferson and Madison could not, like Hamilton, admit that the main reason agriculture was resilient was the free labor costs that resulted from plantation slavery. The ingenuity of Hamilton's economic plan has unfortunately been ignored and its critics prevailed - Congress postponed the decision Manufacturer report, and Hamilton made no effort to revive his plan from legislative obscurity [55] . Hamilton's seminal work, and possibly his greatest contribution to the abolition of slavery in the United States, did not find a platform for action until long after Hamilton's death.

After serving his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury of George Washington, Hamilton returned to New York and resumed work with the New York Manumission Society in January 1798. As one of four legal advisors, Hamilton defended free blacks in front of out-of-state slave owners who waved bills and tried to steal them from the streets of New York [56] . The Manumission Society celebrated one of its most significant victories in 1799 when the New York Congregation passed 68-23 votes for the gradual abolition of slavery in New York State. The society continued its work, with Hamilton one of the few at the top, running a school for black children and protesting the practice of New York slave owners who circumvented state laws by exporting slaves to and from the south the West Indian sugar plantations that Hamilton had known as a boy. Hamilton remained heavily involved in the Manumission Society until his death, despite his multiplying commitments. [57] After establishing himself in United States history, incorporating property rights into the new republic's constitution, and laying the groundwork for the United States' economic system, Hamilton finally felt free, with an institution like the Manumission Society to make it happen to correct the racial injustice that surrounded Hamilton in his early years.

Alexander Hamilton's rise from an impoverished, orphaned misery to a key player in building the United States explains both his personal views and his public actions on slavery and race. During his childhood and upbringing in St. Croix, Hamilton experienced firsthand the dire conditions of slaves and absorbed philosophical abstractions critical of slavery while studying at King’s College. Although from the outset he embraced a widespread hatred of the institution of slavery, Hamilton harbored boundless ambitions for himself and for the philosophical rights he believed in, which would eventually be vital to his economic plan for the United States. Whenever Hamilton faced the choice of promoting his ambitions or weakening slavery in the United States, Hamilton chose the former. This trend in Hamilton's life does not detract from the monumental achievements of Columbia College's most famous student, for Hamilton, despite his personal ambitions, did everything possible to cripple slavery until his death in 1804. Hamilton's views on race and this the place of the freed slave in American society was far more progressive than that of his contemporaries: Hamilton not only rejected methods such as colonization and racial superiority, but believed that African slaves had mental abilities equal to those of whites are equal, and stand a fair within the American republic. Hamilton believed that slavery was a declining institution when contrasted with his revolutionary vision of a Manufacture America, and his career serves to underscore the limits of anti-slavery sentiments of his time - slavery was not the central dialectical theme of Hamilton's era, and therefore the institution was not central to Hamilton's mind. Ultimately, a frontal assault on slavery in Hamilton's time would have jeopardized the fledgling union of a new nation that Hamilton had devoted his life to building. Looking at the stakes of his era, Hamilton's priority of his personal and public ambitions over the annihilation of slavery becomes even clearer. Alexander Hamilton had brilliant visions for himself and the United States, but ultimately remained a pragmatist who understood the battles and only participated in those battles that he could win - unfortunately the slavery that was so ingrained in the American South was an impossible one for Hamilton Win fight.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Austin, Ian Patrick. Common foundations of American and East Asian modernization: From Hamilton to Junichero Koizumi. (Singapur: Select Books, 2009). E-Buch.

Broadus, Mitchell. Hamilton: youth to maturity 1755 - 1788. (MacMillian Company: New York, 1962).

Brookhiser, Richard. Hamilton, American. (New York: The Free Press, 1999). To press.

Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004). To press.

Cruger, Henry and John. Waste book, June 1762 - January 1768. Manuscript. (New York Historical Society, New York).

Cruger, Henry and John. Letter book, June 1767 - August 1768. Manuscript. (New York Historical Society, New York).

Dorfman, Joseph and Tugwell, Rexford Guy. Alexander Hamilton: Nation Maker. Quarterly from Columbia University (December 1937): 59-72

Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002). To press.

Flexner, James Thomas. Young Hamilton: A Biography. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978). To press.

Hamilton, Alexander. Brief an Edward Stevens. Hamilton-Papiere. Manuskript. Kongressbibliothek, Washington. Online.

Hamilton, Alexander. To the Royal Danish American Gazzette. Manuscript. National Commission on Historical Publications and Records. National Archives, online.

Hamilton, Alexander. Report on manufactories. Manuscript. Library of Congress, Washington. On-line.

Hendrickson, Robert A. The rise and fall of Hamilton (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981). 42

Humphreys, David. Papers from David C. Humphreys. Manuscript. From the Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Columbia University, Box 1. 1975.

Horton, James Oliver. Hamilton: Slavery and Race in a Revolutionary Generation, New York: Das New York Journal of American History 3 (2004), 16-24.

Matriculation of King's College. Script. (New York, 1774). Columbia University Libraries, Library for rare books and manuscripts .

Bergmann, Dwight. Papers from Dwight Miner. Manuscript. From the Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Columbia University, Box 1. 1973.

Mulligan, Hercules. Story by Hercules Mulligan in New York City. Hamilton papers. Manuscript. Library of Congress, Washington. On-line.

New York Release Society. New York Manumission Society records. Manuscript. (New-York Historical Society, New York. 1785-1849).

Proceedings court hearing on the deeds of Rachel Levien. Manuscript. (St. Croix, 1768). National Archives, Washington. Online.

Randall, Willard Stars. Hamilton: One life. New York: HarperCollinsPublisher, 2003. Print.

The records of the Federal Assembly of 1787, 3 vols. - Online library of freedom. Oll.libertyfund.org, 'The Records Of The Federal Convention Of 1787, 3 Vols. - Online Library of Freedom '.

Syrett, Harold C. and Jacob E. Cooke, eds. Hamilton's papers . 27 Bd. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-87).

Troop, Robert. Robert Troup to John Mason, March 22, 1810. Hamilton Papers. Manuscript. Library of Congress, Washington. On-line.

Wilder, Craig. Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of American Universities . (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013). To press.


[1] Proceedings court hearing on the deeds of Rachel Levien. Manuscript. (St. Croix, 1768). National Archives, Washington.

[two] Brookhiser, Richard. Hamilton, American. (New York: The Free Press, 1999), 18.

[3] Hendrickson, Robert A. The rise and fall of Hamilton (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981), 42.

[4] Hamilton, Alexander. Brief an Edward Stevens, 1767. Hamilton Papers. Manuskript. Kongressbibliothek, Washington.

[5] Cruger, Henry and John. Waste book, June 1762 - January 1768. Manuscript. (New York Historical Society, New York).

[6] Cruger, Henry and John. Letter book, June 1767 - August 1768. Manuscript. (New York Historical Society, New York).

[7] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 31.

[8] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 32.

[9] Flexner, James Thomas. Young Hamilton: A Biography. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), 39

[10] Austin, Ian Patrick. Common foundations of American and East Asian modernization: From Hamilton to Junichero Koizumi. (Singapur: Select Books, 2009), 31.

[elf] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 33.

[12] Austin, Ian Patrick. Common foundations of American and East Asian modernization: From Hamilton to Junichero Koizumi. (Singapur: Select Books, 2009), 32.

[13] Hamilton, Alexander. To the Royal Danish American Gazzette. Manuscript. National Commission on Historical Publications and Records. National Archives, online.

[14] Randall, Willard Stars. Hamilton: One life. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003), 40.

[fifteen] Ibid., 44.

[16] Flexner, James Thomas. Young Hamilton: A Biography. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), 54.

[17] Ibid, 54.

[18] Flexner, James Thomas. Young Hamilton: A Biography. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), 56.

[19] Brookhiser, Richard. Hamilton, American. (New York: The Free Press, 1999), 21.

[twenty] Matriculation of King's College. Script. (New York, 1774). Columbia University Libraries, Library for rare books and manuscripts .

[twenty-one] Troop, Robert. Robert Troup to John Mason, March 22, 1810. Hamilton Papers. Manuscript. Library of Congress, Washington.

[22] Mulligan, Hercules. Story by Hercules Mulligan in New York City. Hamilton papers. Manuscript. Library of Congress, Washington.

[2.3] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 49-50.

[24] Wilder, Craig. Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of American Universities . (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013), 136

[25] Ibid, 49-68.

[26] Bergmann, Dwight. Robert Troup's Diary. Manuscript.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 53

[29] Ibid, 52.

[30] Flexner, James Thomas. Young Hamilton: A Biography. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), 63.

[31] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 55.

[32] Syrett, Harold, and Jacob E. Cooke, eds. Hamilton's papers . Band 1. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-87).

[33] Ibid, 81-105.

[3.4] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 64.

[35] Ibid, 67.

[36] Bergmann, Dwight. Miner papers. Manuscript.

[37] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 89.

[38] Horton, James Oliver. Hamilton: Slavery and Race in a Revolutionary Generation, New York: Das New York Journal of American History 3 (2004), 21.

[39] Syrett, Harold, and Jacob E. Cooke, eds. Hamilton's papers . Band 2. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-87).

[40] Randall, Willard Stars. Hamilton: One life. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003, 261-262.

[41] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 210

[42] Syrett, Harold, and Jacob E. Cooke, eds. Hamilton's papers . Band 19. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-87).

[43] Humphreys, David. Papers from David C. Humphreys. Manuscript. From the Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Columbia University, Box 1. 1975.

[44] Ibid.

[Four five] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 214-215.

[46] New York Release Society. New York Manumission Society records. Manuscript. (New-York Historical Society, New York. 1785-1849).

[47] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 214-215.

[48] Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), 201.

[49] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 239.

[fifty] Syrett, Harold, and Jacob E. Cooke, eds. Hamilton's papers . Band 4. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-87).

[51] The records of the Federal Assembly of 1787, 3 vols. - Online library of freedom. vol. 1, 5-6.

[52] Dorfman, Joseph and Tugwell, Rexford Guy. Alexander Hamilton: Nation Maker. Quarterly from Columbia University (December 1937), 62

[53] Hamilton, Alexander. Report on manufactories. Manuscript. Library of Congress, Washington.

[54] Flexner, James Thomas. Young Hamilton: A Biography. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1978), 437.

[55] Chernow, Ron. Hamilton. (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 378.

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[56] Ibid, 581.

[57] Ibid, 582.

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